Facebook Finally Unwraps Mobile Ads

Brands can buy mobile-only Sponsored Stories

The knock on Facebook has been its inability to monetize mobile—the company said as much in a regulatory filing submitted last month. But today, it took a step toward shoring up that vulnerability. Advertisers can now purchase Sponsored Stories ads that are specifically targeted to mobile users.

Facebook said in February that it would be rolling out Sponsored Stories to mobile, but until now advertisers had to buy desktop ads to have them appear in the mobile news feed as well. Now advertisers can specify whether they want a Sponsored Story to run only in the mobile news feed, only in the desktop version or both.

The ability to segment buys for mobile is a big deal for any brand with a mobile app because it opens up a new way to promote those apps, said Simon Mansell, CEO of social ad firm TBG Digital. It could also lead to more mobile app developers integrating Facebook as an account registration tool.

“Say you logged in and played Words With Friends," Mansell said. "It’s likely that we’ll be able to create a Sponsored Story which says ‘Tim just played Words With Friends.’ So [it provides] quite a lot of amplification for mobile apps as long as they have Facebook built into them, which kind of makes building mobile apps with Facebook more important, [giving] Facebook an extra point of difference in the mobile space."

The mobile-specific capabilities are particularly interesting for brands such as fast-food restaurants or mobile carriers who are interested in targeting users when they’re out and about, Mansell said.

Advertisers can also bundle a mobile and desktop Sponsored Story campaign to include ads that will run along the desktop’s right rail, or limit that bundling to a desktop Sponsored Story and right-rail ad.